Minnesota, 15 January 2010 (Somalilandpress) – I recently visited Minneapolis, MN the promise land for Somalis in North America. Though this was not my first trip there, it was my longest stay, and lasted about four weeks. I went there for a project and had a delightful time, even though I was mainly working and didn’t have time for much play. It’s true when they say find something you love doing and if you can manage to earn a living out of it, it’ll be like playing every day of your life. That was the case for me, regardless that I was working almost everyday, I had a blast doing it. What made it even more enjoyable for me was the fact that the project involved interacting with Somalis.
I have always heard many stories about MNPLS and its people. MN is a very liberal state in more ways than one. It has one of the most generous social systems in the country and before the economy went south, it was considered a wealthy state with a very healthy surplus.
Somalis in the greater MN had seen that and ceased the moment. They are doing very well for themselves and will make any Somali person who is an outsider, very proud. Somalis in MNPLS are very vibrant, and ambitious unlike any other Somalis I’ve seen or heard anywhere else in the Diaspora.
They have so many different businesses, you name it, and Somalis own it. They even have their own malls 4 or 5 to name a few and sell everything you can imagine. Most of the Somalis have heard about this or probably seen it, therefore I will not bore you with the details, especially since this story isn’t about the business aspects of Somali Minnesotans.
I wanted to write this article about the social engagements that I’ve observed in MNPLS, mainly, about the interactions between the opposite sex and the institution of marriage. There is a phenomena happening in Minnesota and its called “single hood”. Most people you meet, young or old are somewhat single, single mother, single father, single grandmother or grandfather etc. I realize that this has become a trend that most Somalis in the Diaspora are experiencing, but I believe it’s more in style in Minnesota than anywhere else. Don’t get me wrong, I am not implying that divorce is somehow shameful, but when you see a couple in their sixties calling it quits, it’s heartbreaking.
I even had two of my closest friends that ended their matrimony while I was there. These were couples whom I really thought had past the bench of breaking up. They were my hope that it’s possible to find Mr. Right. When I saw them together, I used to say to myself, there are people out there who are made for one another. You usually hear that if marriages past the 7 years mark, chances are they’ll make it. Well these two couples had crossed that line a long time ago. In fact, I thought that they were almost home to the point that they would grow old together and God willing, will welcome their grandchildren in to the world together. They had that combination of old fashion relationship meets Mora rate touch. They were just right for each other, so I thought. That’s why it was a complete shock when I heard the news of their break up. I guess you can say that part of my dreams have died as well. I said to myself, well there is no such thing as two people being made for one another. It’s all a myth, a rumor. Everlasting love doesn’t exist and the sooner you get that through your thick scull, the better it is for you. But then as I keep doing my work, I keep on meeting people of all sorts. Somali people of all ages that got their lives together. Good looking and hard working folks that are well educated and have good heads on their shoulders. I thought wow, I must have forgotten how beautiful and lively my people were and so I was inspired all over again.
However, this (Hiyikac) didn’t last too long. The very evening that I had the pleasure of hanging out with several ladies made it all come crushing down again. I was invited to a small dinner party with all women, which MNPLS is very famous for. Somali women in MNPLS are known to enjoy each others company all by themselves. There must have been about 11 beautiful Somali women there. They looked like absolute jewels, stunning. It wasn’t long before we were able to discuss our lives including our love lives and even though I had the assumption that some of these ladies would probably be divorcees, I hadn’t expected that most of them were single moms. When I asked what’s happening and why these many beautiful sisters are single when they are in Minnesota where there are so many prospects, the answer was that it has become much easier to part than to stay together. It doesn’t matter whether children are involved or not. They said that most Somali men just don’t want the responsibilities that come with marriage anymore. They want to have their cake and eat it too so to speak.
Most of them complain about a serious of infidelities and that their husbands cheated while they themselves were doing most things right. Meaning, they were earning a living, working side by side with their husbands, as well as being the wife and being responsible for the kids and the rest of the household. They were trying to juggle so many things. However, they were rewarded with cheating or the husbands just got bored and left. Some had early mid life crises and some thought it would be more fun to just be single again. Some of the ladies told me that their ex husbands don’t even pay child support and when they tried to pursue them legally, they quit their jobs. When I asked how the husbands are living if they quit their jobs, I was told that in Minnesota, it’s easy to find women who are also divorced, have their own homes, cars and they can just move in with. I was stunned. I mean, I knew and heard cases like these before, but to hear these many all at once was frightening and quite honestly disheartening.
I asked the few ladies that were single and have never been married, if these reasons are why they didn’t take that leap of faith. Their answer was that it’s harder to find a mate in Minnesota, if you are a single woman. (Gabadh) because guys find them to be complicated and high maintenance so to speak. Most Somali men, whether single or divorced, would much rather prefer single mothers or a woman who’ll put up most of the expenses herself. This way, they can leave their responsibilities behind and don’t have to be a father figure for the children of the other woman. They said a lot of guys believe that they are God’s gift to women and they don’t have to do or be anything else. “You’ve got me baby, what more do you want”? God forbid if you ever want to be pursued like a lady, you’ll need a lot of luck in Minnesota. One of the single girls said to me, she has given up on the whole scenario of ever finding a decent guy who is honest and doesn’t play games. My hopes of that are diminishing more and more each day, she says. At this point she said, I’ve convinced myself that perhaps I am better off being by myself, at least I have my dignity.
I heard so many stories that night and as well sporadically while I was in MNPLS. One Evening, I was supposed to meet a friend for coffee. She was running late and didn’t call me either. When I called her she didn’t answer the phone. When she finally called me she told me that she was on the phone with another friend of hers who had been crying her heart out. I asked if she was going to be okay and my friend said, well her husband left her. I eventually learned that this woman who is one of the most beautiful and successful Somali woman in Minnesota got married 2 years earlier to a man who was divorced and has several children. This was her first marriage and his second. She was more educated and much more sophisticated than he was, but she fell madly in love with him. He was handsome and a very charming guy and even though she had a lot of reservations about his package and lack of accomplishments, she couldn’t resist. He was the sweetest guy and they had a lot of fun together.
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He brought so much light out of her that she didn’t even know she had. Before he came along, she had given up on Somali men. They had a lavish wedding paid by her of course, and he moved in to her house. She bought him a new car and he agreed to find his calling in life with her help. She even set up a room for him and his friends to chew chat. Every weekend she put on a Dirac and Uunsi, and looked beautiful for him. She made tea and set up the mood for him and his friends to enjoy them selves while chewing Chat which he probably bought with her money. She gave him everything he wanted. She put up with him while he was trying finding his so call “calling” in life.
But then one day he disappeared completely. He was no where to be found. She called his friends and none of them knew where he was. No one had any idea what happened to him or where he could have gone to. She had no choice but to contact the police and to file a missing persons report. She was worried sick and didn’t know what to do. After a few days the police contacted her and told her that her husband’s vehicle was in Virginia and was driven by none other then the man that owns it, her husband. She would later find out that he left her for another woman. Just like that, no signs at all and no warning. There were no indications of any sort that he was leaving her. There were no problems. She didn’t see it coming at all. How sad is that?
I can’t imagine the hurt and the humiliation she must have felt. The damage he must have cost her. Why any human being would treat and use another human being like that is beyond my comprehension. What would anyone gain from this kind of behavior? I get the fact that people fall in and out of love, but one can just walk away clean by letting the other person know it’s finished.
I have heard dozens of stories like this just the short period that I was there. I was told that there was a new trend that men would marry women and ask them to help them open up businesses, such us stores, home healthcares or even import and export businesses overseas. The women then would get in to a (Hagbad) maybe even sell their gold and hand over everything to their husbands and that would be the last time they’ll see them. Next thing they know is that he is somewhere else and married to someone else. I am thinking, is this what Somali men have become? There is a name for this behavior in America, Its called a Con Artist. It’s a crime that people actually go to jail for.
Few days ago I was talking to a relative of mine and we were talking about life in general. She asked me what my new year’s resolutions were. Maybe getting married she said? My answer was that each day that goes by convinces me that it probably isn’t all that worth any more. How can I ever trust a man when all I hear are stories like these? She asked me if I had met someone in MNPLS and while I’ll take the 5th answering that, lets just say I came back more lost than ever. She heard all of these horror stories that are coming out of Minnesota and other places in the Diaspora and she had to tell me one more story. She told me about this friend of hers that went to visit MNPLS and met a charismatic heart drop. He gave her the time of her life and when she returned to her city, it was the end of it. She didn’t hear from him anymore. We women have to have a meaning for everything. She thought they were in love and that her prince finally came along. When he didn’t return her calls and didn’t hear from him, she called some people who knew him in order to find out if he was okay. That’s when he finally called and said, “listen baby don’t call around asking about me. “Just take a chill pill.” I’ll call you when I can. As if that wasn’t humiliating enough for her, she asked him if he was going to come and visit her. His answer was ‘just send me the ticket and tell me to get here.” The poor thing was in love I guess. There is a famous Somali proverb that says, “Doqonta usha agteeda la dhac, hadday garanwayndona iyada la dhac” I figure, it’ll make more sense in Somali than if it was translated in English. She got the message and that was the end of it. Another one wounded.
To be fair, I don’t thing this behavior is only Somali men’s fault. I believe us Somali sisters have to share some of the blame. First, it was our mothers that spoiled these men rotten while they were growing up. They never allowed them to take any responsibility for their actions as little boys. We, the sisters had to do everything for them as if they were kings. Cooking, cleaning, taking the plates they eat out off from them. We even used to wash their under pants. We cooked and they eat before us. Sometimes we had to wait for their left overs before we were able to eat. We were responsible for them in every aspect of their lives. The only thing different in Somalia was the fact that they were allowed more opportunities than us and so they had to work outside. That was the only thing different. (Somalia was Astura) for most of Somali men. Majority of the young men in the Diaspora are being raised by single mothers and that has its problems as we know it. Their fathers are busy sitting at (Fadhi ku Dirrir Caffe) Discussing politics and being Mr. marrying man.
My hopes and dreams for the New Year are!
After all of this I am still optimistic that life has unexpected miracles and that Allah will give my Somali brothers the strength to look deep in to their hearts and realize that we’re not the enemy. They need not to use us, confuse us and then break our little hearts, for we are their mothers, sisters, daughters and their other half’s. They need to respect us and to treat us like human beings. They must recognize that this journey called life is very short and that no one gets away with their deeds.
For Somali Sisters!
I hope to God that you’ll understand that taking another woman’s husband will never be the answer to your pursuit for happiness. What goes around comes around and there are consequences for every action in life. We don’t need to put up with such behavior and conducts by men. To them, every woman is the best when they’re with her. You really are nothing more special than the others before you. Sometimes our integrity is the only thing worth holding on to.
There is this song sang by Sahra Ahmed that goes!
Hubsiino ayaa la yidhi, halbaa lagu doorsadaa.
Wax aanad hayn, adoo ka hadhaa habboon.
Habaar qabe ha noqon, hanfada oo sida haadka lala.
Habluhu waa walaalahaa, haweenku sida hooyadaa.
Horaadka ku jaqsiisay oo, iyaga hagar lagama galo,
kalgacayl hubuq laguma rido, dadka ruuxii kuu hamradana,
aasee hagaaga jecel, iyaga waa lagu hirtaa
haye baa qalbiga u daawo ah.
By Fathia Absie